The Houston Astros have recently come out as a potential trade partner for the Braves, specifically to pick up Justin Upton. However, while we don't know for sure whether or not the Braves and Astros have had serious talks about Justin Upton, we do know that they did actually talk about the other Upton Brother, and it was concerning a deal in which Evan Gattis would've been sent to Houston. Here's the word from Ken Rosenthal:
The Astros first began targeting Evan Gattis last summer. And when they asked about Gattis again early in the offseason, the Braves came back with an interesting response, according to major-league sources:
Maybe, if you take B.J. Upton, too.
Well, you'd think the Braves would be offering B.J. Upton with Justin Upton in a package deal. You know, brotherly love and all that jazz. But now it seems as if they're also trying to handcuff B.J. with their other valuable trade chip as well. What's interesting is the return that the Braves could've possibly received in this deal:
[Dexter] Fowler, 28, was a logical target for the Braves -- he is from Atlanta and would have replaced Upton in center field. The Braves also are seeking young pitching and would like to add a veteran catcher such as [Carlos] Corporan to pair with Christian Bethancourt.
The Astros, however, balked at adding $39 million in payroll -- the difference between Upton's remaining $46.35 million and Fowler's $7.35 million -- and the teams never agreed on the second player going to the Braves.
Now to be clear here, Dexter Fowler isn't exactly a world-beater out there in Center Field. He's got 6 full MLB seasons under his belt now and he's never really shown anything to suggest that he'd break out to become a star or anything like that. However, I think pretty much everybody here would take Fowler and his relatively modest production over B.J. Upton for 2 reasons: 1) Dexter Fowler is a warm body. B.J. Upton has been zombie-like at the plate for 2 full seasons now and 2) That money. money. Yeah, yeah. Also, plucking young pitching talent from the Astros' farm? Yes, please.
However, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow is no rube. Adding B.J. Upton's contract to the Astros would do a decent amount of damage to the grand rebuilding project that he's got going on down there in Houston. As evidenced by the numerous amount of times where the Astros have tried (and succeeded) to fleece young, promising talent out of their just deserts, that is a GM and club that prides itself in running a financially tight ship during this rebuild. So there's really no way that they were going to take B.J. Upton's anchor of a contract off of the Braves hands just so they could have Evan Gattis in Houston smacking dingers all over the place. You probably couldn't get away with doing that trade in OOTP Baseball, and you can get away with darn near anything in OOTP Baseball.
The good news is that Rosenthal reports that trade talks are still ongoing, which means that maybe, just maybe, the Braves will be able to get something in exchange for Gattis and we might be spared of seeing him play left field for Atlanta in 2015. As much as I love Gattis and his power at the plate, you have to have a macabre taste in baseball in order to be looking forward to the defensive quagmire that he'll bring to the outfield as the regular Left Fielder.
It's clear that John Hart is trying his best to take advantage of what seems like a favorable market, but there is such a thing as getting too greedy and trying to con a team into taking B.J.'s contract may be an example of being too greedy. If he can get a deal done that includes some team taking on B.J. as well, I'll start a petition on whitehouse.gov for an immediate commission of a statue of the man. However, it seems as if the best thing to do would be to drop any hope of moving B.J. (other teams are well aware of his struggles, surely) and maximize whatever you can get for Gattis (and Justin Upton, for that matter) and any other warm body at your disposal.
But, Rosenthal also made it clear that the Braves are swinging for the fences: They've said before that they figure that Justin Upton would bring them a bigger return on the trade market than Jason Heyward did, and now they're saying that they'll have to get a "significant return" in order to move Gattis, part of that return being somehow magically moving B.J. Upton's contract. Good luck with that. It's nice to shoot for the stars in any potential trade, but there's also a chance that in your space exploration, you might end up smack-dab in a black hole. Here's hoping that the Braves avoid falling into a black hole while trying to continue this rebuilding project.
There's a poll at the bottom so we can all see where everybody here at Talking Chop stands on the chances of the Braves getting a deal done while adding B.J. Upton in. I think that it's highly unlikely, but it's sports, and sports can be stupid at time so we'll have to see if someone decides to be stupid again.